Internet Story: 18 Jan 1999
Princess of Wales New Site A new version of the Althorp web site, dedicated to the Spencer family's memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales, is now open. It's a huge improvement on the trivial site put up last year. You can now do a virtual tour of the estate, courtesy of the BBC - you'll need to download Apple's QuickTime 3 plugin for your browser. A personal message from Earl Spencer and history back to 1469 are now featured.
Not all customers are happy In today's New York Times is an article with the latest statistics about customer satisfaction with online shopping over the Xmas period. OK, so record numbers of people herded themselves into the big virtual mall in 1998, but they were not always happy with the experience. Consumers who expressed satisfaction with their online shopping excursions dropped by 14 percentage points from six months earlier, although the vast majority - 74 percent - still considered it a positive experience, according to the survey, which was conducted by Jupiter Communications. The study showed that items being out off stock, but still advertised was the #1 complaint, closely followed by complaints about high shipping costs. In line with other studies, it showed that consumers are getting less concerned about security of transactions over the Net. Shoppers were surprisingly tolerant of technical problems (I wonder how long this will last!). When a site had problems, however, 28 percent said that they then sought out an alternative, which they continued to stick with. So be warned! Another study found that 57 percent of consumers were visiting Web sites only to research products. They did their actual buying later in a store or by phone or fax.
Online Political Activism Could we be in line for a new wave of online political activism? According to analysts in the US we may be. The announcement that Digital Queers, a tech-savvy group with strong ties to Silicon Valley, is joining forces with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation means "Internet activism can be taken to a new level," said Joan Garry, GLAAD's executive director. We are increasingly seeing groups turn to the Net to organize and maintain themselves. The Net offers an excellent way of establishing a world-wide membership, keeping in touch and proliferating ideas. We see such groups here in the UK. For example, Erol Ziya of the British-based Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications says that the high cost of Internet access is more than just a consumer pricing issue. "Some of our strongest supporters are the disabled and the unemployed. Many of the disabled people we speak to say they have no access to the world except through the phone and the modem - charging by the minute is a severe detriment to the quality of their lives."
Hotels are Booming By the year 2002, hotel bookings via the Internet will generate approximately $3.1 billion in revenues for online providers, up from less than $100 million in 1997, according to a new report from Bear, Stearns & Co. "The most revolutionary tool since the introduction of the 800 number in the 1960s, and that is nothing compared with the mighty punch of the Internet," said Jason N. Ader, Senior Managing Director of Bear Stearns. Web sites offering hotel reservations are some of the most heavily marketed and visited on the Internet. In 1998, there were approximately 150 million visits to such sites, with that number expected to more than triple by 2002. Stringer Communications International, Ltd. creators of the Pendle.Net website, are also currently involved in the development of hotel sites and online reservation systems.
Andrew Stringer, © Pendle.Net Ltd, 1999